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Since Cambodia emerged from over 30 years of war in 1999, forest cover dropped from over seventy to below forty percent in 2020. Multiple species of game, fish, trees, and plants have disappeared during these years. This paper situates Cambodia’s post-war, development-induced ecocide within the context of genocide and the trials of transitional justice currently coming to a close in Cambodia to open two related discussions. The first is the ironic fact that humming in the background of trials to prosecute the aged perpetrators of genocidal crimes against humanity, was a massive ecocide, accompanied by cultural genocide that continues to be lauded as development and progress. The second is to propose that the high esteem with which modern humans view development-induced ecocide could hold clues to better understanding the genocides that seem to haunt the civilizing project.
Dr. Courtney Work is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethnology at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. Born in Minnesota, USA, Work started research activities in Cambodia in 2005 and holds a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University. Areas of expertise and interest include the Anthropology of Religion, Development, and the Environment; the History of Southeast Asian political formations; and Contemporary Political Economy and Climate Change. Current research interests involve death, regeneration, and interactions between humans and chthonic energies.
Dr. Mucahid Mustafa Bayrak, or Muca, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), and an Einstein Scholar of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan. He received his PhD from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2015, with research and teaching interests that concern how local and Indigenous communities in Southeast and East Asia cope with and adapt to global climate change. His current projects focus on the political ecology of environmental migration in the Lower Mekong Subregion as well as Indigenous resilience to climatic change in Taiwan and beyond.